HE: the equality challenges
The equality challenges facing the UK higher education sector.
What the data tell us
Below is a summary of the equality challenges facing the UK higher education sector, based on HESA data from the 2011/12 academic year. Our 2016 Equality in HE statistical report covers UK higher education staff and student equality data from the 2014/15 academic year. We are currently working on our next report, which will be released in the autumn, along with a new summary of HE equality challenges.
There continue to be low proportions of women and black and minority ethnic staff in professorial or leadership roles. While there has been a decrease in the proportion of professors who are white men from the previous year, the disparity in numbers for other groups is pronounced. The opportunities for black and minority ethnic women seem to be most greatly reduced.
- 68.8% of senior academic managers are white men
- 15.9% of white male academics are employed at professor level
- 2.8% of black and minority ethnic female academics are employed at professor level
The low numbers of senior women in academia and research is a challenged across Europe. To help address this, ECU is using its knowledge and experience in a multi-country European project.
Student attainment gaps
- 17.7% The difference between the proportion of white qualifiers receiving a first or 2:1 and the proportion of Black and minority ethnic (BME) qualifiers receiving a first or 2:1.
- There is a persistent gap in the degree attainment for students with different ethnicities, although this has decreased for the second consecutive year.
Attainment gaps differ widely depending on the age of the student:
- 8.6% ethnicity attainment gap for students 21 and under.
- 26.3% ethnicity attainment gap for students 36 and over.
- 2.5% disability attainment gap for students 21 and under.
- 6.9% disability attainment gap for students 36 and over.
A significant drop in the numbers of mature students applying to university has been widely reported. If older students are less likely to receive a good degree, more may decide that going to university isn’t worth their while. It seems clear that more needs to be done to support and retain this group of students.